Serious Games (dot) SG

from games for purpose to interactions and experiential environments for purpose


Workshop on 

Entertainment in Serious Games and Entertaining Serious Purpose 

in conjunction with the 

IFIP 13th International Conference on Entertainment Computing 

 ICEC 2014 Sydney, Australia, Sept 30, 2014 


Scroll down for list of accepted submissions / presentations 

- Extended versions to appear in a Special Issue of the Journal Entertainment Computing, 2015

The serious games community rightly argues that there’s more to serious games than entertainment, and restricting the focus to entertainment “seriously undersells its potential” (Jenkins 2006). Indeed, while a consensus definition of serious games still eludes us, serious games are often described as games designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment.


However, entertainment obviously has an important role to play, for example in contributing to the motivational and engaging qualities of serious games and making learning or serious elements more palatable. Why would anyone want to voluntarily play a serious game again and again for extended periods of time if it’s not entertaining? Furthermore, discussion around what is, and what is not, primary or secondary importance is not always helpful and can be problematic - because arguing that serious purpose is primary rejects many games and interactions whose entertaining element is the purpose - where purpose and entertainment are inextricably and synergistically linked. So arguments or distinctions along the lines of what's more important, the serious purpose or entertainment, become blurred.


In addition, gameplay and interactions exhibiting this synergistic nature typically identify good design. Where entertainment and serious purpose meet, where purpose doesn’t overshadow entertainment (and vice versa) and ideally where players want to play voluntarily for hours on end, again and again, and in their own time.


Similar arguments are used with learning and development where learning with games is fun (e.g. Gee 2007). Other more obvious examples can be found in exergames and dance games where the mechanic of working out is entertaining and entertainment is a workout; or with interactive art and installations that provide a message or an experience that is entertaining. Similarly, other examples might include well-designed role-playing, interactive storytelling and performance where taking part in historical events, encounters with different social and cultural structures, or facing moral and ethical dilemmas and situations can be entertaining.


In this respect, entertainment and associated experiences can mean different things to different people and can involve elements or mixes of gameplay and interaction that is fun and exciting, through stimulating and thought provoking, to difficult, scary, or darker experiences that are pleasurable (Marsh and Costello 2012).


As more and more interactive entertainments (games, diversions and brain teasers) appear on social media and networking sites, it’s not difficult to foresee these offerings increasingly extending to serious purposes (learning, training and well-being); and in doing so perhaps signal an increased confidence in overcoming the failure surrounding the introduction of Edutainment in the 90’s.


In this workshop we want to highlight the importance of entertainment (in its various forms) in serious games irrespective of supporting technologies/platforms. The objective of this workshop is to provide a forum for researchers and practitioners to identify, discuss and share topics associated with entertainment in serious games and the synergy of serious purpose and entertainment in interactions and gameplay – where entertainment is the serious purpose and also where the synergy of purpose and entertainment identifies good design.


Accepted / Presented Submissions

Serious games - A quest to defeat the oxymoron

Erik D. van der SpekMartijn Kors, Ben Schouten, Industrial Design, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands.


Entertainment and Motivation in Serious Games

Joshua Hall and Peta Wyeth, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.


Serious Games must look like Casual Games

Helmut Hlavacs, University of Vienna, Austria.


Doodle Health: Games as Cultural Probes

José P. Zagal, Roger Altizer, Qing Zeng-Treitler, Jean Shipman, Erica Lake, Heather Aiono, Marty Malheiro, Carrie Christensen, University of Utah, USA.


Can a Test Entertain?  An Analysis of Blackbar and its Lessons for Language Educators

Sim Joo Jin and Dawn Chia, Curriculum Planning and Development Division, Ministry of Education (MOE), Singapore.


Entertainment, Serious Games And Virtual Heritage

Erik Champion, Curtin University, Perth, Australia.


Psychagogy and Catharsis as Guiding Principles for Designing Serious Entertainment

Nikitas M. Sgouros, Department of Digital Systems, University of Piraeus, Greece.


perfekt.ID – towards more personalised gamified design

Lauren S. Ferro, Steffen P. Walz, Stefan Greuter, School of Media and Communication, Games and Experimental Entertainment Laboratory (GEElab), RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.


Slow Serious Interactions, Games, Diversions and Experience

Tim Marsh1 and Brigid Costello2. 1Griffith Film School, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, Brisbane. 2School of the Arts and Media, University of New South Wales, Sydney.



Tim Marsh, Griffith Film School, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. (co-chair)

Rainer Malaka, Bremen University, Germany.

Matthias Rauterberg, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands.

Minhua Eunice Ma, Glasgow School of Art, UK.

Jannicke Baalsrud Hauge, BIBA-Bremer Institut für Produktion und Logistik GmbH, Germany.

Nikitas Sgouros, University of Piraeus, Greece.

Erik Champion, Curtin University, Australia. (co-chair)

Helmut Hlavacs, University of Vienna, Austria. (co-chair)

Contact organizers at: seriousexperience [at]



Henry Jenkins. 2006. Getting Serious About Games.

John Paul Gee. 2007. Good Video Games Plus Good Learning, Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York.

Tim Marsh & Brigid Costello. 2012. Experience in serious games: between positive and serious experience, Serious Games Development & Applications, SGDA2012, Bremen, Germany.


IFIP Technical Committee 14 on Entertainment Computing & Working Group 14.8 on Serious Games



Serious Games & Game Analytics and Telemetry

- analysing and interpreting in-game data through visualisation, statistics, graphs and video (facial expressions) 

representing player behaviour, learning and experience/emotion

A look at some of the pioneering and foundational published research (2004-2007) carried out along with Cyrus Shahabi's team 

at the University of Southern California's (USC)




and Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC) funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Check out links below to our early publications and features including ACM SIGCHI, ACM SIGGRAPH, Fun and Games, and Gamasutra - topics 

include: data mining, storage and management, visualisation, Immersidata (data from immersive environment), playability/usability, user experience, interface analysis tools, etc... 


Continuous and Unobtrusive Capture of User-Player Behavior and Experience to Assess and Inform Game Design and Development

Tim Marsh, Shamus P Smith, Kiyoung Yang, Cyrus Shahabi. 

Fun and Games 2006, UK.

Tim Marsh, Kiyoung Yang, Cyrus Shahabi and Seon Ho Kim. 

Digital Interactive Media Entertainment & Arts - DIME-ARTS 2006, Bangkok, Thailand.

Paper describing the unobtrusive capture and management of data representing player's behavior and experience. Our v

isualization technique and interactive tool (ISIS) allows analysis and investigation 
of any area of interest - in-game events, behaviors, interactions. 

Describes studies in students’ natural classroom settings using our educational serious game late in the development cycle - we found that as well as identifying design problems, 

we captured students’ learning behaviors and experience. Thus, demonstrating that both ISIS and our visualization technique can be used as tools not only to inform game development per se, but also as tools for teachers and researchers, etc. to qualitatively and quantitatively analyse and reason about user’s learning behavior and experience. 

Many of the issues addressed in this paper are equally applicable to a range games genres irrespective of whether they are predominately for entertainment or non-entertainment purposes.

Continuous archive and analysis of user data in virtual and immersive game environments

Kiyoung Yang, Tim Marsh, Cyrus Shahabi, 


ACM Workshop on Continuous archival and retrieval of personal experiences CARPE. 2005, Singapore.

Automating the detection of breaks in continuous user experience with computer gamesTim Marsh, Kiyoung Yang, Cyrus Shahabi, Wee Ling Wong, Luciano Nocera, Eduardo Carriazo, Aditya Varma, Hyunjin Yoon, Chris Kyriakakis, ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.2005 , Portland, USA.

Game development for experience through staying there. Tim Marsh, Kiyoung Yang, Cyrus Shahabi, ACM SIGGRAPH 2006 - Sandbox symposium on Videogames, Boston, MA, USA.

Immersidata: Four Case Studies

Cyrus Shahabi, 

Tim Marsh, 

Kiyoung Yang, Hyunjin Yoon, Albert A. Rizzo, Margaret McLaughlin, Minyoung Mun. 

IEEE Computer, April 2007.

Immersidata improves interactive game development user-testing, 2006

Building on this earlier research we investigated immersidata and telemetry approaches for "interactive storytelling: customizing the player experience", monitoring human activities and for health, fitness and well-being applications.

The 'Interactive' of Interactive Storytelling: Customizing the Gaming Experience. Barbaros Bostan & Tim Marsh. International Conference on Entertainment Computing - ICEC 2010, Seoul, South Korea.


For similar more recent research see Anders Drachen's Games Analytics Resources

What are Serious Games?


Program Chair, International Conference on Entertainment Computing - ICEC 2014, 1-3 Oct 2014, Sydney, Australia. 

Section Editor for Serious Games in Handbook of Digital Games and Entertainment Technologies, Springer, 2015.

Chair, Workshop on Entertainment in Serious Games and Entertaining Serious Purposes, at ICEC 2014, Sydney, Australia, 30 Sept 2014.

Program Committee, ACM SIGGRAPH Asia 2014, Symposium on Mobile Graphics and Interactive Applications, China, Dec 2014.

Chair of Working Group on Serious Games (14.8), as part of the IFIP Technical Committee on Entertainment Computing - TC14

Chair, Workshop on Mechanics, Mechanisms & Devices: to Inform, Reflect & Change Behaviour, Oct 15, 2013, São Paulo, Brazil.

Consultant,English Language Oracy Portal, Ministry of Education, Singapore, 2013-2014.

Tim Marsh presents on-going R&D at ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, JCU, Queensland, Australia, on Serious gaming Simulations for visualization, learning and raising public awareness about conserving the Great Barrier Reef, 2013.

Co-Chair, Workshops / Tutorials, IFIP ICEC 2013, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2013.

Co-Conference Chair, 4th International Conf. on Serious Games Development & Applications, SGDA 2013, Norway, 2013.
Keynote at ICTExtravaganza 2013, Singapore Schools and Ministry of Education (MoE), 2013.

Consultant Future Schools @ Singapore 2012-2013.

Co-Chair Technical Programme, 2nd Serious Games & Social ConnectSGSC 2013, Singapore, 2013.

Feature Article "Serious Games Are BecomingSerious Business" appears in October 2012 issue of BusinessReview Australia 

Tim Marsh receives award for R&D in serious games to help raise awareness ofhow sensitive ecosystems operate in the Great Barrier Reef and the impacts humans have on them - see projects

-Exploring The Reef. C2C2012. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


Program Committee Serious Games Development &Applications 2012, SGDA 2012, Germany